Page 7 - Research and Eval revised
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African American students had higher expulsion rates than Latinos and Caucasians in preschool students (Gilliam & Shahar, 2006).
The extant literature has identified distinct stages of social-emotional development based upon brain maturation and environmental influences. Brain development plays a primary role in social-emotional growth, particularly the maturation process that occurs in the frontal lobe. This area of the brain manages several key aspects of emotion, including the ability to exert effortful control in the areas of attention and inhibitory response (Thompson, 2006). Rapid growth occurs in the frontal lobe at two time points, during infancy and between the ages of 4 and 7 (Hudspeth & Pribram, 1990). Between 12 and 18 months, children become aware of their social environment and are able to respond to basic requests for social interaction, such as waving hello or goodbye. By age 2, children develop the ability to regulate their own behavior and are able to show elements of self-control outside of the presence of their caregiver. Between 3 and 11 years old, children experience consistent growth in their ability to inhibit first responses, regulate their emotions, and problem solve, with the most rapid changes occurring between the ages of 3 and 5 (Gerstadt, Hong, & Diamond, 1994; Simpson & Riggs, 2005).
The interaction between brain maturation and a child’s environment is a key factor in social-emotional development. Social modeling occurs within a child’s immediate context, where the external control exerted by primary caregivers demonstrates how the child should regulate their own behavior (Schunk & Zimmerman, 1997). At age 3, children begin to understand, practice, and internalize appropriate social-emotional behaviors, which are guided by contextually learned aspects of cooperation, reciprocity, and responsibility (Schunk & Zimmerman, 1997; Hay, 1994). Adults impact the rate and quality of development by the manner in which they guide and respond to a child’s behavior and emotions. Having internalized modeled behavior, 4-year-old develop advanced understanding of acceptable levels of social- emotional variance depending upon people, time, and place.
Higher instances of reported behavioral problems and expulsions encountered by male, minority students compels the examination of cultural and gender temperament differences as they relate to early childhood social- emotional development.

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